Castleford’s Mr Consistency this season Matt Cook has backed Daryl Powell’s view that the side has done well to qualify for the Super 8s with all their injury disruption.
Cook has been one of the few first teamers to be relatively injury-free as he has only missed three games all season, but the fact he has not once played in an unchanged line-up speaks volumes about how tough it has been for Cas.
He said: “I think we’ve done real well to achieve sixth in the regular season and still be in touching distance of that top four with all the injuries we’ve had.
“It’s been especially tough in the halves, missing Benny Roberts for a lot of the season and Galey missing a couple here and there. It’s nice to have Rangi here now and hopefully give us a good push in the Super 8s.
“He knew a lot of the boys anyway from his last spell here so a lot of the lads knew how he plays and he knows how the structure is at the club.
“I think the two weeks he’s had training with us now with no game in between have helped him find his feet a little bit more and get used to playing rugby again.
“I reckon there’ll be some exciting things to come from him now.
“It was nice to have a break for a week and we’ve probably needed it with the bodies we’ve lost. Now everyone has come in fresh, we’ve ripped in this week and we’re ready to go for the start of the Super 8s.”
Cook says everyone at Cas is focused on finishing as high up the table as they can.
He said: “The main focus for us is just to keep trying to be at our best each week and try and claw our way up the table.
“As a group of lads we have still got high aspirations to actually get into that top four and have a real crack at getting something out of this season.
“We are going to enjoy ourselves and take each week as it comes then hopefully we will be in the right area at the back end of the seven games.”
Cook expects a big test in the Super 8s opener at Hull FC: “They’ve got a pretty talented team across the board.
“The biggest challenge is that they have got a big pack. A bit like Catalans, they are big old boys. We’ve got to handle them well, especially us in the middle. Hopefully we’ll go toe to toe with them.
“They had a tough game against Wigan in the semi-final so hopefully that will have taken a bit of juice out of them, but they’ll have high aspirations to do the treble. We’ve just got to go there and make sure we play well. It’s a big game and should be an exciting one.”
On his own season at Cas, Cook is pleased to have been a first team regular.
He added: “It’s been good. I think I’ve only missed three games all season so it’s nice to have been getting that many, the majority off the bench to be fair.
“I’ve just been trying to have as much impact as I can when I come off the bench or if I was required to start.
“It’s been a tough season so far because of all the injuries we’ve had, but I have enjoyed every minute of it.”